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While you may not be able to make it to Hawaii anytime soon, that doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you’re there. You don’t have to travel far to get a taste of paradise.
These Hawaiian-inspired desserts are the perfect way to bring a little bit of the islands back home with you! From tropical fruits like pineapple and mango to coconut, macadamia nuts, and beyond, these desserts have a distinctly Hawaiian flair. And they’re not just for tropical climates—you can make them year-round, no matter where you live!
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Hawaiian-style desserts that are sure to get you in the spirit of all things warm and tropical. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation without even leaving your own backyard! If you’re planning a luau or Hawaiian-style BBQ or even just want to try something new for your next family gathering, these Hawaiian-inspired desserts will have you feeling the island vibes in no time!
If you’re looking for other dessert recipes, we recommend our Coconut Cream Pie, Pina Colada Cake, Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Berry Pie.
Table of Contents
Why I LOVE Hawaiian Desserts
Random fact about me (Erica): I learned everything I know about Hawaiian baked goods by working at a bakery in Hawaii. Despite waking up at 3 a.m. it was one of the most fun jobs I have ever had. It felt like less work and more like a party every day. We would crank up the music and dance while making bread and desserts like nobody’s business. My love for Hawaiian culture and food grew so much by working at the bakery. We were encouraged to try every item that we made, which introduced me to new flavors and foods that I otherwise normally wouldn’t have tried. It was the first time in my life I really ventured out of my culinary comfort zone and tried new flavors, like passion fruit, coconut cream and Hawaiian wedding cake. I found out I really liked trying new things!
What Dessert Is Hawaii Known For?
In Hawaii, the dessert possibilities are endless. There are so many different kinds of desserts and flavors, it would be impossible to narrow it down to one or two traditional Hawaiian desserts. Instead, when thinking of Hawaiian treats, consider some of the ingredients that are widely known and loved in Hawaii and you can make a dessert choice based on that. Popular Hawaiian dessert ingredients include (but are not limited to):
- Coconut (or Haupia)
- Lilikoi (aka Passionfruit)
- “POG” (Passionfruit-Orange-Guava)
- Macadamia nuts
- Coconut milk
- Toasted coconut
- Pineapple juice
- Green tea
- Taro (or Poi)
Authentic Hawaiian Desserts
Narrowing this list down was NOT easy and I know there are a lot of desserts out there that could have easily made this list. That being said, here are some of the very best Hawaiian desserts in no particular order:
Haupia (or Hawaiian Coconut pudding) is less of a “pudding” as we know it and more of a cool, smooth, coconutty treat that you can pick up with your hands. It can be eaten on its own or it can be an ingredient used to enhance other Hawaiian dessert recipes. It isn’t like any dessert we have here on the mainland and it can be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but I absolutely love it and the bold flavors always take me straight back to Hawaii.
Chocolate Haupia Pie
Chocolate Haupia Pie is a MUST when visiting North Shore Oahu. If you can’t make it to Ted’s Bakery anytime soon, the next best thing to do is make it at home. This recipe tastes JUST like the local favorite.
Probably the most requested cake at our bakery was guava cake and for good reason. I love the bright flavor of this cake combined with the creamy smooth layers. It’s easy to make in big batches for large gatherings. You can’t go wrong bringing this to your next Hawaiian-themed party.
Malasadas are a fan-favorite in Hawaii (though originally a Portuguese treat, it has been around Hawaii long enough that I am tagging it as “Hawaiian”). From Leonard’s bakery in Honolulu to random bakeries and food trucks around the islands, there are always people lining up to get a hot malasada. They taste like a cloud dipped in sugar and even better when filled with haupia.
Duke’s Hula Pie (Copycat Recipe)
When I lived in Hawaii I didn’t have a car so I didn’t make it to Waikiki often. But when I did I always made a point to go to Duke’s to get the Hula Pie. Duke’s Hula Pie is like a giant ice cream pie with a chocolate shell and coconut whipped cream.
Bonus: Pani Popo
Even though Pani Popo is more of a side dish than a dessert (and more Samoan than Hawaiian) I feel like it needs to be on the list. It was one of my favorite things we would make at the bakery. Pani pop is a dinner-style roll that is covered in sweet milk and served warm. Trust me, it’s as good as it sounds.
Hawaiian Inspired Desserts
While these recipes aren’t considered “authentic” they can still pass as a delicious island-inspired dessert for any Hawaiian BBQ or luau. They’re all easy, made with easy to find ingredients, and are crowd pleasers every time!
Pina Colada Cake
This cake has all of the flavors of a classic Piña Colada cocktail. Fresh pineapple, coconut, vanilla, and cream blend together perfectly in this dessert. This cake is the perfect dessert on hot summer nights, or when you want to serve something cold and refreshing.
Coconut Cream Cake with Coconut Frosting
Coconut lovers, this cake is for you! This cake features layers and layers of coconut flavor in every bite. Coconut infused cake, coconut cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut. It takes a bit of time to put this cake together but it is worth every second. This is truly one of the best cakes in the world!
Coconut Cream Pie
This made-from-scratch dessert is one of the most scrumptious pies we’ve ever tasted. Nothing from the store will ever taste as good. Rich and creamy homemade custard in a flaky crust and topped with toasted coconut, this pie is always a show stopper at family dinners. It looks and tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen, but it actually comes together really fast!
Island Pecan Pie
I actually served this pie at Thanksgiving a few years ago, and it has since taken the place of traditional pecan pie at our holiday table. It has all the sweetness of a pecan pie, with the added flavors of pineapple and coconut flakes. Because it combines summery flavors and rich, nutty flavors more associated with fall, it’s a dessert that can easily be served year round. This tastes just a delicious with a dollop of whipped cream on a backyard patio as it does sitting around a roaring fire in the winter.
Hawaiian Wedding Cake
Give yourself a break with this recipe by getting some help from the store. A simple cake mix is dressed up with fragrant coconut and pineapple to create an easy dessert that tastes extravagant and elegant. This cake definitely gives off Pina colada vibes, with refreshing tropical flavors and a light topping that isn’t too sweet and really lets the flavors of the cake shine through.
More Authentic Hawaiian Desserts
Though we don’t have recipes for each of these yet, they are worth mentioning in case you plan a trip to Hawaii and wanted to try something new:
- Butter Mochi – A simply buttery cake that is slightly chewy. Like mochi but in cake form.
- Chantilly Cake – Like German chocolate cake but without coconut.
- Dobash Cake – A Hawaiian style chocolate cake with a thick, pudding-like frosting.
- Kulolo – A dessert made from taro that has a fudge-like consistency.
- Chi Chi Dango – A type of mochi that is soft, sweet and often made for “Girls’ Day” in Hawaii.
- Guri Guri – A frozen, fruity dessert that tastes like a cross between sherbet and ice cream.
I hope you have enjoyed these Hawaiian dessert ideas and that you will try some of them at your next gathering. Although I loved being near the beach and soaking up the Hawaiian sun, my favorite part about Hawaii by far was getting together with friends and just enjoying the good company (especially when food was involved). If you are looking for more tasty Hawaiian recipes to make and share, be sure to check out our Hawaiian Plate Lunch for entire meal ideas or if you are its looking for a quick snack, try our Spam Musubi recipe. You really can’t go wrong with any of our Hawaiian recipes. Feel free to try them all!
Hawaii Food Is The Best. Mahalo for sharing your wonderful delicious food & dessert recipes.I enjoy making new foods & desserts from My Childhood Island (Kauai,Hawaii). I’m more then willing to scribe. Am originally from Hawaii. And this brings back good memories making all these “ono” (good) dishes with “Tutu-Lady ” (Grandmother).
Tita (sister) Vanessa J. Silva (Carlos)🤙🌺
I made the Guava Cake & everyone in my family loved it!!!
That cake is so good! Glad to hear you loved it!
Do you have the recipe for fried rice from the gazebo on Maui. Also do know where you can order Portuguese sausage. The fried rice is the best ever. All of the breakfast items are the best
Wow these all look delicious! I am totally making that hula pie first! So good!
This could not have come at a more perfect time! I have been dying to visit Hawaii but now I can at least eat like I’m there! Thank you for the perfect round up!
Yes to all of these!! Hawaii is one of my fave places in the world and I dream of malasadas (Punalu’u Bake Shop is the BEST!). I also love all things lilikoi and guava so I will have to try some of these!
I can’t wait to try all of these!
All looks yummy!